As much as 10 million key employees and their households can now ebook a coronavirus take a look at on-line or by way of their employer.
Well being Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned the expanded testing programme was “a part of getting Britain again on her toes”.
However the authorities stays a way wanting its goal of 100,000 assessments a day by the tip of this month.
Thursday’s figures confirmed 23,560 assessments had been carried out, although Mr Hancock mentioned capability had now elevated to 51,000 per day.
The info additionally confirmed an extra 616 individuals died with the virus in UK hospitals, bringing the overall variety of deaths to 18,738.
Cellular testing models
The well being secretary introduced the brand new testing preparations at Thursday’s Downing Road coronavirus briefing, together with a dedication to recruit 18,000 individuals to hint contacts of these contaminated.
Those that can now register for a take a look at embody NHS and social care employees, law enforcement officials, lecturers, these within the justice system, grocery store and meals manufacturing employees, journalists and transport employees.
Beforehand, a smaller group of key employees – these whose work is deemed vital to the Covid-19 response – had been eligible for testing.
Mr Hancock mentioned as soon as individuals enter their particulars on-line they are going to be despatched a textual content or e-mail inviting them to both ebook an appointment at a drive-through centre or to request a house take a look at package, although the latter are at present in restricted provide.
A assist desk has been established to assist the method, whereas cellular models run by the Military are travelling across the nation to the place they’re wanted, similar to care houses.
The take a look at includes taking a swab of the nostril and the again of the throat.
Key employees who’re unable to entry the federal government’s web site will nonetheless be capable of apply for a take a look at, as employers are capable of ebook on behalf of their workers.
Till now, hospitals have been finishing up assessments, together with a community of about 30 drive-through centres in automotive parks, airports and sports activities grounds.
However the drive-through centres haven’t at all times been in handy places, which can have discouraged individuals from getting examined.
Mr Hancock mentioned the present capability for finishing up assessments was now “forward of our plans”.
“As a result of capability has now elevated so considerably, we are actually capable of increase who can get the assessments,” he mentioned.
“Our final objective is that everybody who may benefit from a take a look at will get a take a look at.”
The Welsh authorities has beforehand outlined plans to increase testing to key employees and Northern Eire’s well being minister has introduced the nation’s testing programme is being expanded to incorporate front-line employees within the personal sector.
Scotland is prioritising assessments for NHS workers and has but to announce any enlargement of testing to key employees.
Mr Hancock additionally detailed plans for a community of contact tracers that can be used when the lockdown is eased, insisting a means of “take a look at, observe and hint” could be “important” to cease a second peak of the virus.
The hope is that regional outbreaks of the virus may be saved below management by isolating individuals with the virus, after which tracing their contacts and isolating them.
The well being secretary mentioned infrastructure could be put in place in order that contact tracing may be rolled out on a “massive scale”.
Labour’s shadow well being minister, Justin Madders, advised the BBC he welcomed the transfer to increase testing to key employees however questioned whether or not something was being completed to enhance ease of entry to the assessments.
He mentioned many individuals had been having to drive for greater than an hour to testing stations, which was most likely “the most important impediment to individuals getting the take a look at”.
Additionally on the Quantity 10 briefing, Prof John Newton, co-ordinator of the UK’s coronavirus testing programme, mentioned the federal government was “on observe” to succeed in 100,000 assessments a day by the tip of April.
He mentioned new sorts of take a look at – together with ones that don’t depend on reagents that are in brief provide – would assist to succeed in the goal.
Elsewhere, Mr Hancock mentioned the plan for easing lockdown restrictions set out by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was “very related” to the UK authorities’s strategy.
In different developments:
- The first human trial in Europe of a coronavirus vaccine has begun in Oxford – with the primary two volunteers being injected
- Stars and royals raised more than £27m on BBC One charity particular The Huge Night time In
- Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chair of the defence choose committee, mentioned the federal government has been “too gradual in procuring the mandatory” private protecting tools for frontline workers
- A submarine crew had been filmed having a celebration throughout the coronavirus lockdown, prompting a Royal Navy investigation
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